Norwegian horse racing monopoly Norsk Rikstoto has reported a year-on-year increase in turnover during the first half of the despite being impacted by the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
Total turnover for the six months through to 30 June amounted to NOK1.79bn (£153.3m/€168.6m/$193.2m), which was a rise of 5.7% from NOK1.69bn in the same period last year.
Digital channels were again the primary source of income for Norsk Rikstoto, with the monopoly reporting NOK1.32bn in turnover from online and mobile, up 19.1% from H1 of 2019.
However, turnover from commission fell 15.3% year-on-year to NOK457.8m, while on-course turnover dropped 71.7% from NOK45.2m to NOK12.8m. This was primarily due to the suspension of Norwegian trot and gallop racing from 13 March to 19 April due to the pandemic.
As such, with less Norwegian racing for customers to bet on, Norsk Rikstoto said the percentage of turnover from betting on overseas racing increased during the period.
Despite reduced betting options, Norsk Rikstoto said that the number of active customers remained stable in the first half, while it saw some growth in terms of new players.
Meanwhile, the monopoly noted that it distributed NOK218m to the equestrian sector in the first half, in line with the requirements set out in its licence. Funds were split between a number of causes, including racing tracks, prize money and jockeys.
The operator also implemented a series of initiatives to help mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, including partially or wholly laying off up to 70% of its workforce.
All projects were also suspended during the peak of the pandemic, except for its statutory licensing requirements.
During the period, it was also revealed that the Norwegain government had ruled Norsk Rikstoto should retain its status as the horse racing betting monopoly in the country after its current concession expires in 2021.
The government had been considering transferring the monopoly from Norsk Rikstoto to national lottery Norsk Tipping when the former’s rights to organise wagering on racing conclude at the end of next year.